feedingbrett’s review published on Letterboxd:
Nobody could doubt that The Force Awakens, the starting chapter of a new Star Wars trilogy, was a potential disaster if it had been misguided, collapsing further into the hole that George Lucas had sadly left with in the prequel trilogy. Many felt that this restart would find itself just as convoluted and baffling as the choices and intentions that were led with Lucas’ last three films. To my, and many, surprise, The Force Awakens was exactly what the franchise needed. It gave the fans what they have always wanted, the spirit of the original trilogy, and paved the way to new directions that promises new sights and adventures, without necessarily losing the aura that made it all so wonderful.
With the growing success of J.J. Abrams adaptation, there was a tremendous weight that has fallen upon Rian Johnson’s shoulders, with the fact that now all that nostalgia has been purged, it would be unwise to take again such familiar roads with this sequel, while taking new directions may alienate viewers if attended so poorly. Undoubtedly, Johnson delivered in creating a sequel that takes the franchise to unexpected directions that further dives into the significance of all of its new principal characters, exploring and challenging their moral compasses that would set their pathways for the trilogy’s eventual finale.
Darker, meaner, and at times hilarious, Johnson opens more doors for the characters that we may not expect. Certainly, there were still moments that take cues from the original trilogy playbook, a little nostalgia for those hungry for it, but essentially, the writer-director reveals more than anybody would anticipate and take these elements into directions that are both bold and confronting. This was The Last Jedi’s greatest strength, the characterisation that could easily turn on its head when the opportunity is taken on; a greater depth on the material that recalls the more serious tones of ‘Empire’.
Revealing more story elements here would defeat the appeal that many would have coming into this, as I am sure providing character spoilers at the time of ‘Empire’s’ release would have cushioned the impact that it may have, so in that regard, I would not dive further into it. However, I would like to point out that though The Last Jedi explores and strikes harder than any Star Wars film, equal to Chapter V, in comparison to Abrams’ film, The Last Jedi is a film that doesn’t flow as gracefully and indulges in the joyous escapism as The Force Awakens does. Although I am aware that such choices have its own set of benefits, but these are rewards that I feel are better reaped through subsequent viewings and placed within greater context after the arrival of the final film.
My attention has been grabbed for sure, and anticipation for the final instalment couldn’t come any sooner; while though I found The Force Awakens’ instant gratification factor to be supremely enticing, that certainly lacked much of the character development that The Last Jedi was able to efficiently compensate. Johnson has crafted a challenging and confronting Star Wars film, one that is sorely needed in order for the franchise to provide a sense of growth; I just hope the whole thing doesn’t drop the ball in the trilogy’s closing endeavour.